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  • Elsie Russell

FinTech Female Fridays: Eliane Tchikanda, Director of Banking Operations, Stash

Can you tell us a little bit more about your role as a Head of Banking Operations in Stash? What does your typical day look like?

I directly oversee the company's banking operations and serve as a liaison with our external banking partner, Green Dot. I am responsible for driving improvements to our key metrics, as well as partnering with internal stakeholders to ensure all our systems and processes run smoothly. On a typical day, I am working on implementing improvements to Stash policies as well as collaborating with both internal and external teams to optimize operations and ensure excellent service for our customers.

How were you able to pivot from a bank teller to now Head of Banking Operations at Stash? What was the biggest lesson you learned during your career growth?

My motto has always been to strive for more. I had the odds stacked against me. I am black, I am a woman, I am not U.S. born—I am from Cameroon— and I have an accent. Those combined factors have challenged me many times in my career. However, they also served as an opportunity to strive to always be my best. Knowledge, ambition, resilience, drive, and integrity—these are attributes and qualities that helped me forge my career path and development, along with having a great mentor along the way.

What do you think is the competitive advantage Stash has?

Stash's hands-on approach to financial education is what ultimately helps our customers build confidence and healthier, more sustainable money habits. Regardless of background, network, or net worth, every customer gets to experience a “learn-by-doing” approach when they come to Stash. Education is embedded into every corner of the app and user experience, empowering our customers to truly feel in control of their money and financial future. When you couple that with Stash’s unique feature set—including Stock-Back rewards, Early Payday, Partitions, Bill Pay, Portfolio Builder, Auto-Stash, and more—it becomes very clear what truly sets Stash apart from others in the space.

What are the top three lessons learned for the operations of Stash that you have identified as a result of the current situation?

First, and most importantly, this pandemic has proven the power and necessity of personalized education and guidance. From income volatility to a turbulent market, millions of Americans are experiencing unprecedented financial changes in their lives. Providing up-to-date resources and guidance—from budgeting through tough times to filing for unemployment benefits—as well as education about best practices for weathering unpredictable markets has been, and will continue to be, absolutely critical. Second, this time has made clear just how essential it is to have a secure platform and a seamless user experience. This helps to ensure that during unprecedented times, customers can access their money quickly and easily, move funds around as needed, make changes to their investment schedules, and beyond. It’s during times like these that such a simple and accessible experience, like Stash, is critical in building and maintaining customer trust. On that note, a final learning has everything to do with our customers. COVID-19 has shown us, perhaps more than ever before, that each customer’s financial situation is truly unique. We’ve always taken a customer-first approach at Stash, and the last few months have revealed why this works: It allows you to pivot quickly to changing customer needs, and it ensures that you’re with them every step of the way, providing the necessary tools and support.

What do you think the role of big and small companies is in social initiatives and do you believe stakeholder capitalism is replacing its more traditional predecessor?

Social initiatives are extremely important. All companies, regardless of size, should engage in conversations and fight for equality, respect, and prosperity for all. Consumers are becoming more vocal about the desire and need to support companies that reflect their own values and beliefs. It’s crucial that members of the majority groups fight alongside minorities to create more equality and equitable opportunities. Private enterprise was built on the premise of stakeholder capitalism, with the purpose of creating long-term value for all participants—including employees and customers.

This ideology was lost for over 40 years, as companies instead embraced traditional shareholder capitalism. After the economic downturn in 2008, companies started shifting back towards stakeholder capitalism, focusing again on the best interests of their stakeholders, customers, and employees. I’m hopeful this soon replaces that traditional shareholder capitalism mentality entirely.

Where do you foresee financial investment applications like Stash moving in the next 12 months?

There will be an increased need for digital-first platforms. This shift will change how people expect to interact with their money. This current remote way of life, has resulted in even higher expectations about how quickly and easily consumers can access financial and money management tools. Through digital platforms, like the one we built at Stash, customers can access their bank accounts and investments 24/7 from their phones, receive personalized advice and education, and handle all of their day-to-day financial needs without having to leave their homes.

Reach out to Eliane on LinkedIn.

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